ASUS M3N-HT 780a SLi Reviewajmatson - May 6, 2008
With the rise of processors from Intel taking the market share because of the performance divide, most of the high end gaming boards have been built to support Socket 775 and not AM2 as much. Well, it looks like the tides are starting to change. The release of updated Phenom X4 processors, the anticipation of AMD's X3 processor and with the TLB bug being fixed, the AMD CPU is starting to make a comeback. With that comeback there is more support popping up from motherboard manufacturers to push the limits of the new processors. AMD released the 790FX chipset not too far back, creating the springboard for the "Spider Platform" to compete with Intel's X48 chipset, but the downfall of the early Phenoms left computer builders scratching their heads and started to migrate from AMD to Intel based systems. With the success of the 790FX platform from AMD/ATI and the new AMD processors, nVidia has designed a new chipset built to harness the power of the X4, X3, and other AM2 processors and adding SLi support to make a powerful gaming system that will challenge Intel based X48 systems.
ASUS has jumped on the new platform, which is based on the nVidia 780a chipset, in the ASUS M3N-HT motherboard. The new chipset on the M3N-HT is comprised of the nVidia 780a GMCP (Graphics Media and Communications Processor) Northbridge and an nForce 200 Southbridge. The 780a is interfaced with the CPU using HyperTransport 3.0, allowing Phenom users to get the full benefits from it. One thing you may have noticed is that the Northbridge is a GMCP and not just an MCP, which means that there is a GPU integrated on the chip, allowing the M3N-HT to use onboard video, a discrete card, or nVidia's new Hybrid SLi technology. Another outstanding feature you will notice on the ASUS M3N-HT is that there are three PCI Express slots on the board. That will allow a user to run triple nVidia based graphics cards for the best gaming experience ever.
I must admit, I was so eager to dive in after seeing the box and what the ASUS M3N-HT has to offer. The front of the box has logos for some of the features ASUS offers on the M3N-HT, which is a great idea because this keeps a potential buyer from having to search all over the box looking for the information. One of the first things that caught my eye was the ESA logo on the bottom. ESA, which stands for Enthusiast System Architecture, allows a user who has an ESA certified motherboard to monitor and control other components that are ESA certified, including power supplies, processors, video cards and cooling products. The back of the box expands on the main features and specifications that the board offers, as well as a picture of what it looks like.
Sliding out the main part of the packaging from the cover gets you to the goodies. Flip the cover over and underneath are the two layers, the top being the accessories and the bottom being the motherboard itself.